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Profile - Musée du Louvre

The Louvre: A Rich Past, An Ambitious Future

"Open to all since 1793": From the outset, the Louvre has embodied the concept of a truly "universal" institution. Universal in the scope of its collections, it is also universal in its appeal to some 6 million visitors every year: a 21st-century museum rooted in 200 years of innovation.

The Mission of a Great Museum

The principle responsibility of the Louvre is to conserve, protect, restore, and develop France's national art treasures, from the early royal collections to the most recent acquisitions. In carrying out this task, the museum’s scientific and academic staff displays steadfast commitment and universally recognized professionalism.

The priceless artworks housed in the Louvre are held for the benefit of present and future generations. Hence the vital importance of the museum's mission to make these works available to the greatest number of people possible, from France and all over the world. To do this, it is our job to ensure that every visitor enjoys the best facilities possible. But it is also essential to promote cultural access: to do as much as we can to help each visitor to approach, understand, and enjoy the works they have come to see. With this in mind, we are committed to extend the range of information available at the Louvre in languages other than French, to further develop the museum's wide range of educational resources and activities, and to make our buildings and collections more easily accessible—in every sense—to people with disabilities and to new audiences.

A National and International Presence

The Musée du Louvre and its associated institutions (the Musée Eugène Delacroix and the Tuileries gardens) work hard to provide the best possible service for our visitors. We are also increasingly involved in efforts to encourage access for people who might feel—for whatever reason—that museums are "not for them."

In France, the organization of traveling exhibitions and loans are central to this initiative. Another important project is the plan for a regional branch of the Louvre in the town of Lens, in the Nord-Pas de Calais region (scheduled for 2008). The museum's northern branch will feature innovative displays of works from the national collections, including its own semi-permanent collection, and an ambitious program of temporary exhibitions.

The Louvre’s role as an international center for cultural heritage is, I believe, equally important. The museum loans works to over one hundred institutions worldwide every year. In addition, the Louvre has encouraged the creation of the American Friends of the Louvre and the Grand Louvre au Japon: two bodies working to support the museum and promote its activities to their respective publics. The Louvre has also formed innovative partnerships with “emerging” museums abroad, such as Atlanta's High Museum of Art in the United States. In the Middle East, we are actively involved in important archaeological excavations.

A 21st-Century Museum

The cut-off point for the Louvre's collection is 1848—a crucial year in French and world history—but the museum is by no means an institution of the past. Since 1989, when the Grand Louvre project doubled our gallery space, we have continued to forge ahead with new plans and ideas.

We have developed an innovative and highly effective Web site, a veritable "virtual museum" to complement the palace building and its collections.

We have extended a whole-hearted welcome to contemporary art, with temporary exhibitions, and a program of events and installations throughout the museum, facilitating the essential dialogue between the "Old Masters" and living artists.

Finally, the Louvre continues to develop and refurbish new spaces, drawing on the latest concepts in architecture, museum design, and museum-based education. In particular, this involves the new Department of Islamic Art (scheduled to open in January 2009), the Cour du Sphinx, and the 18th-century collection of the Department of Decorative Arts. The museum is actively seeking sponsors to help realize these ambitious plans.

To implement and carry forward its many projects, the Louvre has modernized its management structure and secured a contractual agreement with the French Ministry of Culture and Communication ensuring autonomous control of its human and financial resources, on the condition that it attains the objectives of a public institution.

This is the multifaceted museum—vast, yet intimate and open to all—that I invite you to discover.

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